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Senators proposing compromise bill: Inaction on coronavirus relief 'would be a self-inflicted wound'

Senators proposing compromise bill: Inaction on coronavirus relief 'would be a self-inflicted wound'

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins: Minimum wage increase should be separate from COVID-19 relief package The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Focus on vaccine, virus, travel Moderates vow to 'be a force' under Biden MORE (R-Maine) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerModerates vow to 'be a force' under Biden The next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief MORE (D-Va.) warned that inaction on additional relief for Americans during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic “would be a self-inflicted wound,” in a Washington Post op-ed touting a $908 billion COVID-19 relief proposal backed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

The proposal, introduced last week, includes funding for small-business loans; $35 billion to help health care providers; and billions for COVID-19 testing, contract tracing and vaccine distribution. The proposal also includes funding for rental assistance and unemployment benefits, among other initiatives.  

Collins and Warner noted in the op-ed that lawmakers passed five bills totaling approximately $3 trillion in coronavirus relief earlier this year, but they added that “Despite a broad consensus that more relief is desperately needed, for months congressional leaders and the White House have been trapped on a merry-go-round of negotiations that have led only to one stalemate after another.”

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“We’re proud to work across the aisle to solve the most pressing issues facing our nation, even though it has subjected us both at times to criticism from people in our own parties who would rather smear the other side than get things done,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Maine and Virginia senators said they “began quietly reaching out to like-minded colleagues” in crafting the proposal, and they “worked for two weeks over zoom and socially distanced pizza dinners to negotiate a compromise on emergency funding that senators from both parties could find a way to support.”

They noted that the $908 billion proposal is smaller than the $2.2 trillion package sought by House Democrats and larger than the $500 billion plan introduced by some Republicans, calling their funding “a common-sense compromise that includes the best ideas from both Republicans and Democrats and focuses on areas where there is consensus.” 

The proposal has been backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), in addition to President-elect Joe Biden. President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE also indicated he would sign a coronavirus deal if one was reached.

Republican Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyModerates vow to 'be a force' under Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief MORE (La.) has also expressed confidence in the legislation, telling “Fox News Sunday” that “President Trump has indicated that he would sign a $908 billion package. There was only [one] $908 billion package out there, and that's ours.” 

“At a moment like this — as intensive care units are flooded with desperately sick patients, restaurant workers wonder how they are going to survive the cold weather ahead and parents are forced to send their children to bed hungry — it would be both foolish and heartless not to do something," Collins and Warner wrote in the Sunday op-ed.

“Inaction at this critical juncture would be a self-inflicted wound from which our country would take years to recover,” they continued.